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City could get weather radar

By submitted, 09/19/23 10:35 AM

PRESCOTT – Perry Nelson, superintendent of the Prescott Water and Sewer Department, told the Prescott City Council, at its September meeting Monday night, the city could get a National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) weather radar station.

A company out of Louisville, KY approached the city about installing the system on top of the water tower. The system, Nelson said, is designed to fill in the gaps of radar access that exist between Shreveport, LA and Little Rock. The system wouldn’t cost the city anything and there would be a written lease agreement. The system, he told the panel, would have an eight-foot globe and a backup generator (on the ground) with all the electronics.

According to Nelson, the radar wouldn’t interfere with any of the city’s radio communications, which are used to fill the water tank. The company, he said, wants to know if the city is interested and is willing to send representatives to talk to the council. “This would benefit the city,” he said, adding the company would make money but not be paying the city anything.

Councilman Howard Austin questioned why the company should make money and the city not. Nelson said the company is responsible for all the expenses of the radar, along with paying an electric bill to the city. Basically, the cost of operations is why the city wouldn’t be getting paid. Nelson also pointed out local and area residents would be getting almost instant access to weather situations, which would give people time to get to safety. The company, he added, will train local emergency service personnel how to use the information.

Nelson had a second bit of news, this not as good. In the 1990s, he said, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started a lead and copper rule with water systems being tested for both. Prescott, he said, has always been under the limit for both, but in 2021 the EPA changed the rules requiring cities to check for lead water line service inventory – or lead water pipes – record the materials found and eventually change them out. Prescott, he continued, has more than 2,000 to be checked by the deadline of Oct. 2024.

If lead services lines are identified, they have to be dug up. The Arkansas Department of Health, he said, has hired contractors to help with this. Nelson told the council the city could dig if different places around town to check and once this is done it would be made public as residents can come to city hall to see if their address is on the list. The problem, he added, is there’s no system in place determining who will pay to replace the lead lines.

Prescott is more than 120 years old and doing this survey, he said, won’t be an easy thing, especially as the check has to be done on the customer’s side of the meter along with the city side and the customer’s side is on private property. At one time, he added, there were lead lines on Main Street, but when a street project was done, they were replaced..

Questions were raised about Love’s second store. Nelson said his department has been watching them from the start and it’s a first class operation. Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver said he’s been working with Love’s for a year now and Prescott is one of the few places with two Love’s. He lauded several members of the city crews for working with Love’s to get the business up and going, adding Love’s hired 100 people and will be a benefit to the community now and in the future.

In other business, the council approved an ordinance to continue collecting 5 mill for personal and real property tax. This is done every year and is not a new tax.

Carl Dalrymple, city accountant, presented an amended budget, which was approved, saying it may have to be amended again in December. Normally this would be done in January, he said, but auditors won’t allow this. Additionally, he said the budget committee will start meeting a month earlier so the budget can be presented in December.

Jamie Hillery, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce provided the council with the Chamber’s monthly report along with a calendar of upcoming events. She said a lot is coming up with coffees, ribbon cuttings, the fall festival, garage sale and Trick of Treat on Elm Street. She reminded the panel the First United Methodist Church will host a coffee Thursday morning at 9:30.

Prescott Police Chief Ann Jordan said a new officer has been sent to the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) and will return upon graduating. The PPD, she added will be on hand for Trick or Treat on Elm St. which is Oct. 31. K9 officer Mae McKinnon brought her new partner, Ero, in to the municipal building to introduce him.

There was talk of addressing the interlocal agreements between the and county as the city no longer has the funds to do what it once did. Dalrymple said the city was able to do a lot when Potlatch was here, but it’s gone and the city has to tighten its belt.

Questions were raised about a new city attorney. Oliver said there are seven prospects, but the city is taking its time to save money and is using lawyers from the Arkansas Municipal League to help.